VCT Centers Ensuring Universal Access to Testing and Treatment
“The social aspect of HIV is the worst aspect of the disease,” explains counselor Nahla Mahjoub Al-Zubair who works as a social counselor in the Voluntary and Counseling and Testing Center (VCT) in Khartoum North Hospital.
She further adds, “The VCT center is usually approached by 25-30 clients per month who test for HIV and others who wish to know more about HIV.”
The counselors and doctors in the clinic emphasize to clients approaching the center that all testing is confidential and that treatment is available and free of charge. Nahla further states, “If a client discovers that he/she is positive we inform them immediately about the availability of antiviral treatment and counseling here at the center and we advise to bring his/her family to do the test as well.”
“Over time patients have built a special rapport with the counselors here in the VCT center, which poses as a problem when the counselor leaves or is transferred to another center, since we have a very small number of them in the state.” UNDP GFATM in collaboration with SNAP is actively involved in training of VCT counselors who are the backbone of the VCT centers.
Nahla also talks about future projects for the center “We are currently discussing the feasibility of establishing a direct hotline for individuals who wish to pose questions about the HIV and HIV-related diseases, without actually having to approach the center for fear of stigma.”
The VCT center in Khartoum North hospital has been established in 2007 and will soon also become a PMTCT (Prevention Mother to Child Transmission) center. PMTCT centers focus on mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy and after birth. Screening and treatment is provided to mothers who approach the centre